The Brazilian economy is currently ranked the sixth largest in the world and with $526 billion being invested in the country between 2011 and 2014, the potential for commercial opportunities is rapidly increasing.

Brazil is also benefitting from having been chosen to host two of the next major global sporting events, which will present new business and procurement opportunities for companies of all sizes and sectors. The 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games will be held at brand new, or significantly modernised, sporting venues around this fascinating and growing complex country.

Of course, there is more to major events than just providing sporting facilities. There is a need for new airports and terminals, metro systems, roads, technology and many services to include training. The eyes of the world are now on Brazil and they are being judged on the showcase they present which will have a direct impact on future levels of tourism. Being a supplier for these events brings international acclaim, raises profile and will make a significant contribution generally to your export business if approached with adequate preparation.

Many of the Host Cities in Brazil are also looking to host many more routine sporting and cultural events with the aim of driving more tourism benefits as well. All of this is building a legacy beyond 2016 and companies must therefore take a long term view of opportunities with the aim of having an enduring business presence. In North East Brazil, Recife is building a Sport Centre of Excellence to appeal to the international community and there are opportunities for companies to get involved in both the build and delivery phases as this project grows. Recife and Rio are also undertaking major upgrades to some of their historic areas which have been neglected over many years. Both are involved in waterfront developments which will transform the cities with new offices, hotels, marinas and other leisure facilities. These will provide a tremendous backdrop to the FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games with many Fan Parks and wider culture events.

However, Brazil has a complex procurement and stakeholder environment which can make it a challenging place to do business for those who have not adequately prepared or without the right local support structures. Understanding tax and employment issues is vital, as well being aware of the time and cost issues in setting up a company. Speaking Portuguese or certainly being represented by an experienced local person is essential. Regrettably, there are far too many examples of companies rushing to find local partners and then expecting early success without any appropriate due-diligence and regular contact to ensure both parties are clear what is expected.

The challenge of entering any new market, and certainly in Brazil, is to recognise that whilst there are many opportunities, the time and cost risks must be managed. Market penetration in Brazil requires thorough and rigorous planning and a clear strategy. A first visit will give a good feel for what needs to be done next on return if accurately debriefed and lessons learned are conducted. The next steps will involve refining your message and testing the market to judge the probability of winning business in what is now a highly competitive environment given the levels of international interest. It is only when this early work is completed with local representatives providing a running commentary on developments, and keeping new relationships alive that finding a local partner should be considered. The very warm and open nature of Brazilians makes it a challenge to judge real levels of interest, hence the importance of getting very accurate feedback about the success or otherwise of early stage contact to avoid disappointment and wasted investment. Rarely is local insight and contacts so important as when doing business in Brazil.

Major Events International has been in Brazil for nearly three years and has representatives in Rio, Sao Paulo and Recife, supported by a senior Associate from Brazil who is based in Lausanne, close to the Sports and Governing Bodies. They are there to help plan and support visits to Brazil, advise on the right people to speak to, prepare marketing material and conduct post-visit follow-up. Given the complex political and stakeholder environment, local knowledge is essential to be time efficient and target those with the right influence in the right organisation. They effectively become an extension of your company as your ‘local presence’. This will help build confidence with potential clients showing you are serious about succeeding in Brazil and that you have proper support to win business and follow-through the early stages of delivering contracts. The local MEI staff provide you with the instant ‘office and staff’ in Brazil without the need to provide the full suite of business support infrastructure with all the risks this involves, as well as the management overheads. They will also ensure that all your accommodation and travel plans are fully supported.

Companies certainly need to be preparing now if they want to get involved in Brazil in the next few years with the Confederations Cup, the natural curtain-raiser to the FIFA World Cup, now only months away. You can move a mountain, but you cannot move a major events opening deadlines! All products and services should be treated as being in demand, unless your visit proves otherwise, and Brazilian authorities and companies will be very keen to meet you and to hear of your international experience.

The key messages for companies are – if you’re going to work in Brazil, don’t rush it as preparation is everything, and you will need local support. But the market is simply too big to ignore regardless of how complex it appears to be and you will need to be decisive and time responsive to maximise both the scale of the opportunities and to limit your risk. Brazil is a wonderful country in every regard. It is facing a unique window of opportunity to show the world the scale of its rapid economic and social development. Major Events are part of this story and you are also facing a once in a lifetime opportunity to get involved so join us there.

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